Hen Heaven

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Lee Stafford Hair and Beauty recently received a fantastic write-up by the girls of Curves and Couture on their blog. Read the full article below.

If your idea of the 'perfect hen party' involves naked men, copious amounts of alcohol, party buses and a visit to every licensed premises in your chosen town, then read no further. However, if like many modern brides you would prefer a day of pampering with your chosen girlfriends/family, there are plenty of spa packages available across the country.

Personally, the idea of a spa day/weekend with my girlfriends has been a dream, but the reality of actually going to one fills me with absolute horror. Being plus-size and on the mature side, no amount of luxury or pampering could entice me (or many of my friends) to bare all in a spa full of strangers. I'm pretty sure that other spa users would be just as horrified at the idea of half a dozen, middle aged, overweight, almost naked women joining them in the communal Jacuzzi.

So the spa experience was one that would forever remain on the 'to-do" list. Until, totally by chance I met Sharon Ward, a friendly soul with a warm smile and an infectious laugh, who was a fellow exhibitor at a large wedding show. Dramatic as it may sound, that chance encounter may have changed my life. Sharon is the manager of a new, contemporary, boutique style spa with a difference.

I have to admit that I was somewhat sceptical after listening to Sharon describe the spa, the treatments and the packages on offer - after all, this total stranger was describing my elusive dream. At the end of a very long, very hard weekend, Sharon generously extended an invitation to experience the delights of her spa.

As it would have been rude not to accept, it was time to face my fear and move the spa experience from the 'to-do' list to the 'done' list. With my trusted wing woman Alison and three of our plus-sized models in tow, we headed North East to deepest Chelmsford. Just 12 minutes later and we arrived. Surprisingly, there was no jostling for parking, it was straight through the pink gates and into the free car park.

Nervously we approached the main entrance where we were greeted by the lovely Sharon in the ultra modern, ground floor reception. We were offered refreshments before being escorted to the spa which occupies the first floor. We were shown the gleaming facilities and were given the Health & Safety information talk before being left to enjoy the spa, which included a Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, heated pebbles, monsoon shower and the tranquillity of the chill out room. The latter being equipped with heated, moulded beds, soft fluffy towels, iPods and speakers, magazines, candles, ice cold jugs of water and dishes of lemon and lime slices.

It certainly looked amazing, but the thought of wrapping my ample body in a 'one size fits all' (or, in my case, one size fits one leg) robe was still at the forefront of my mind. Imagine my relief on discovering five spa robes neatly hanging in the changing room in a variety of sizes, with five towels and five pairs of spa slippers laid out for us.

This was the point at which it dawned on me that the entire spa was, for the next four hours, exclusively for our use. There would be no strangers wandering through that we would need to hide from whilst trying to cover up our lumpy bits and pieces. We wouldn't have to lower our voices or our raucous laughter. It was just us - with regular brief visits from the spa staff to refill the water jugs, check water levels and ensure we were all staying hydrated.

At lunchtime we were given the opportunity to order a hot or cold snack/lunch/afternoon tea. That offer was a no brainer, we are all plus-size, so sampling the food was an absolute must. Within 30 minutes the food had been delivered on china plates.

The food was very reasonably priced, freshly prepared and washed down with a glass of chilled wine that we had taken with us. The staff are only too happy to provide guests with glasses should you choose to take your own refreshments. This all seemed far too good to be true, so, being the fastidious person I am, I set about composing my "snagging" list. But the more I looked, the less I found.

I was almost disappointed that I was unable to find anything to dull my enthusiasm. Then, out of nowhere I realised what the catch must be, I had missed the obvious......The price!

Feeling quite smug, I gathered the price lists, not only for spa treatments, but for the hair salon and the nail bar. After studying the literature I felt somewhat frustrated and surprised to learn that there are packages to suit EVERY budget.

If you are yearning for a day of pampering, have the luxury of time but limited funds, you can tailor your day to your individual budget - simply by crossing the threshold into the adjoining Hair & Beauty Academy where treatments are delivered by 2nd and 3rd year students (under the supervision of their trainers) for a fraction of the cost of a qualified therapist.

If your budget is flexible and time is of the essence, there are a number of packages available starting at just £28. You can choose whatever treatments take your fancy from the extensive menu. Qualified beauty therapists and nail technicians are on hand to administer your treatments in the various rooms located within the spa. The hair salon is located on the floor below.

So, despite wasting much of my long awaited spa day searching for faults, disadvantages, hidden costs or just anything that I could mention that was even slightly negative, I really couldn't and it's not often that happens! I have found a real piece of heaven, right on my doorstep.

The only real problem I can envisage for the future is finding a spare few hours at least once a week (while claiming to be working late) and working out how to delete 'last destinations' from the Sat Nav. Now, I have to ask myself do I really want to share the name and location of this little gem? No I don't - but I will.

Lee Stafford Hair & Beauty
15-21 Rainsford Road
T: 01245 355 222
[email protected]

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